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The Risk of Darkness    by Susan Hill order for
Risk of Darkness
by Susan Hill
Order:  USA  Can
Seal, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I had unfortunately missed the first two entries (The Various Haunts of Men and The Pure in Heart) in Susan Hill's police procedural series starring DCI Simon Serrailler, that did not dilute my enjoyment of The Risk of Darkness.

It starts in the North Riding Police HQ where DCI Simon Serrailler agonizes over the fate of a missing small boy, David Angus, while he consults with local police over another missing child. Serrailler is shown as frustrated by the job's 'too many restrictions, too many political-correctness boxes to be ticked'. After another abduction, there's a break in the case and eye witness information leads them to the kidnapper, Ed. But the perp will not disclose the number of prior victims or the locations of the bodies, and only seems to be interested in talking to a neighbor's young daughter, Kyra.

In parallel with Simon's investigation, we see his sister, Dr. Cat Deerbon, as she juggles family and medical practice, while worrying over her husband Chris's desire to move to Australia. Cat's patient Max Jameson is greatly disturbed over the death of his wife Lizzie and begins stalking other women who remind him of her. Young Reverend Jane Fitzroy becomes one of Jameson's victims, in between dealing with assults on her atheist psychiatrist mother - with whom she's always had a difficult relationship. Simon meets, and is intrigued by Jane. And we also see the devastation of the life of the serial killer's mother after the arrest.

What I especially enjoyed about Susan Hill's writing is that she fills her story with vignettes in which she quickly sketches in credible lives - for policemen and women, victims and killers alike - so that we feel that we know all of them in a little more depth than is common in a crime novel. Despite the interruptions of violence, all these lives move on in different and credible ways. Don't miss Susan Hill's three Simon Serrailler mysteries.

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